Every now and then, I receive emails from readers asking me about some of this website's ongoing features. You know, the occasional posts with the special logos. Take, for example, our whole "Got news?" concept.
It's valid to ask this kind of question, since there are always new readers who are clicking into the site or readers who have been around for awhile, but don't remember when a particular feature started up and the rationale for why it was created. Should we run a paragraph at the end of these features every time that explains the concept?
Well folks, this one almost explains itself. What we have here is a classic "Got news?" story.
By definition, a "Got news?" item at GetReligion is something really interesting or important (or both) that we see online -- usually in a liberal or conservative denominational news site -- that leaves your GetReligionistas scratching our heads and wondering: "Why isn't this story getting any mainstream news coverage?"
So, you remember the Chick- fil-A wars, right?
There was a time when just about any story linking Chick-fil-A and homosexuality was going to to straight to A1 in major newspapers and it might even show up in evening news broadcasts. Battles continue, from time to time, whenever Chick-fil-A attempts to open franchises in intensely blue zip codes. These stories tend to draw mainstream news coverage.
Which brings us to this headline from the progressives at Baptist News Global: "Chik-fil-A challenged for sponsoring LGBT-themed film festival." (The unique spelling of the company's name is in the original.) Let's walk through the material at the top of this story.
Three years after evangelical Christians designated a day to eat more chicken in support of Chik-fil-A’s defense of traditional marriage, the Southern Baptist-owned fast food chain is taking heat online for sponsoring what is billed as the world’s first faith-based LGBT film festival.
The Southern Baptist reference, of course, does not refer to the actual Southern Baptist Convention, but to Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy, a Southern Baptist layman who vocally backed the use of money from his company's foundation to support causes linked to traditional Christian doctrines on marriage and sexuality. Moving on:
A change.org petition posted recently asks Chi-fil-A to explain its sponsorship of “Level Ground,” a movement started in 2013 by two Fuller Theological Seminary students -- one gay and one straight -- to create “safe space for dialogue about faith, gender and sexuality through the arts.
Participants in the group’s most recent film festival, held Oct. 8-10 in Nashville, Tenn., included former contemporary Christian artist Jennifer Knapp, who came out as a lesbian in 2005, and Karen Swallow Prior, a Liberty University English professor and research fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Sponsors included Gracepointe Church, an evangelical church in Franklin, Tenn., that made headlines in January by coming out in support of marriage equality.
Now there are several newsworthy hooks in that material, starting with the participation of a professor from the giant campus founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, a woman who also has a link to an influential branch of the SBC. And then there is the latest sighting of Gracepointe, a small-to-average-sized Franklin church that keeps making big headlines.
There is also the chance that this event could be seen as an extension of those interesting, and news producing, dialogues between Cathy and gay-rights activist Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride and, as the Baptist Global News story notes, "Cathy’s guest at the Chik-fil-A Bowl football game in 2013."
So, "Got news?" If you run a Google News search on the logical words and phrases linked to this story, this is what you get -- pretty much nothing, other than items on conservative news sites. This is a "conservative" story?
Anyone have any theories as to why this story drew zippo mainstream media ink? I mean, at the very least this could have -- for Religion News Service -- been seen as a chance to update a story like this one: "Chick-fil-A wings in new direction after gay flap." (You see what they did there in that headline? But does Chick-fil-A sell wings? Never mind.)
What think ye, readers?